Uganda’s Tourism Image-Lingering Ghosts of Idi Amin and other Travel Myths

Posted by on March 3, 2019

The Uganda that Visitors Encounter versus Uganda’s Tourism Image

Beyond the News Hype – Lingering Myths and Legends – Uganda – Perceptions versus the Reality

 Uganda’s Tourism Image – Perceptions versus the Reality.  The Uganda that you encounter when you arrive is /.far from Myths, Perceptions that many have about the Pearl of Africa.  The reality is far from what you might find in slanted news reports, on the internet blogs or in Travel Forums.

Uganda’s Tourism Image has been distorted by the Ghosts of Idi Amin, the perception that the infamous  Joseph Kony and his band of Child Soldiers are causing havoc across the Country which they have not for well over a decade.

Uganda’s Tourism Image was further tarnished when American Evangelicals used Uganda as a proxy to accomplish what they could not do in their own country – Criminalize Homosexuality, something that had already been done years earlier by the British but the Americans wanted to go a step beyond.

Add to that the reality that Uganda has at times been its own worst Image Enemy during times of Election, ill-advised Government Announcements and pronouncements, statements by politicians, both members of the leading party or opposition that have put Uganda into the international Limelight for the Wrong  Reasons.

Uganda’s Tourism Image – visitors, our clients on Safari, often remark as to how wrong they have been in their wrongful perceptions about Uganda. Most fall in love with the Pearl of Africa, its natural Wonders, Primates, Wildlife, most of all Ugandans themselves and wish that they had planned more time in Uganda.

Uganda, like much of Africa, is perceived by many to be a place of War and Conflicts, Disease Ridden, Poverty. Before arrival, they perceive a country that is not safe, unstable, unfriendly and not welcoming plus a range of other things. all of which is not the reality of Uganda that one encounters upon arrival.

As a Ugandan Tour Operator, we know why  Tourists come to the Pearl – we do not wait for another Government Study by non-marketeers, we understand why Uganda is chosen by International Tourists, why they choose to Trek Gorillas in Uganda rather than Rwanda – it is the 900 USD Permit Price Difference.  That is the hook that leads Tourists to Uganda and most add-on Chimpanzees, Wildlife, Cultural Activities 

“To travel is to Discover that Everyone is Wrong about other Countries” – Aldous Huxley

  “Uganda – Perceptions versus the Reality ” Dispelling the Ghosts of Uganda’s Past

 Idi Amin is not Uganda and Uganda is not Idi Amin:

Idi Amin came to power in Uganda by the Gun during a military overthrow of President Milton Obote and he lost his power by the power of the Gun as Tanzania, along with Ugandans intend on restoring democratic Rule such as the now President Yoweri Museveni.  The years in between those two events helped shape perceptions outsiders, including Reporters, have about Uganda.

His image worldwide was one of a ruthless dictator that killed upward to 300,000 Ugandans, he evicted the Indian Community from Uganda of around 40,000, he ruined Tourism for Uganda closing it down all-together, wildlife being wiped out, even though he continued to visit Parks such as Murchison Falls and Kidepo National Park. He ruined Uganda’s economy, realigned Uganda with Islamic Nations, he persecuted Christians, nearly wiped out the Abayudaya Jewish Community.

Idi Amin died in 2003 in exile in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a broken man, regretful about some things, but defiant on others.  His Ghost has been kept alive through movies such as “The Last King of Scotland,” which is not a Uganda image builder as is “Raid on Entebbe.”

Idi was Uganda’s dictatorial Ruler, her ruined the country,  The Uganda of today could not be further removed from the Person of Idi Amin, but the Ghost of Idi Amin keeps haunting Uganda’s Present Image and that ha to do with personal safety security for visitors.

 Joseph Kony and the Lords Resistance Army

Joseph Kony, former Altar Boy became one of Africa’s most wanted men along with his Lord’s Resistance Army fled Uganda in 2006 and are in various parts of Eastern DR Congo and the Central African Republic.

There are no guerillas inside of Uganda, only gorillas and is the reason that many visitors come to Uganda but you will find enough things on the internet that might lead you to believe otherwise.  The so-called Documentary Kony 2012 was badly received in Uganda – in Gulu, the presentation had to be shut down and the  Invisible Children had to flee.  The rest of the world bought it as truth.

Uganda, at the present, has been safe, secure and stable.  There are no rebel groups in Uganda.  Unlike in Kenya, there has been one terror incident caused by al Shabab and that was in 2010.  Ugandan Police and security are not restrained as they might be in the West.

 Uganda – that is where they kill Gays:

Uganda as much of Africa had anti-gay laws on the books that were formulated by the British Colonial administration.  Those laws were rarely enforced though Uganda like much of Africa has anti-gay sentiments. Uganda comes with a mixed bag since one of the Kings of the Buganda Kingdom, Kabaka Mwanga practiced homosexuality at times.  Sexuality is something that takes place in a home and what happens in the house stays in the house.

Some American Evangelicals saw Uganda as the perfect place where they could implement anti-gay laws by proxy.  Laws that they could not implement in the USA but they came to Uganda, fired up members of the evangelical community and private legislation was tabled in parliament.  It sat around for years, a hot potato that no one wanted to touch.  Election time came and it passed in parliament and was signed by President Museveni only to be thrown out by the Supreme court on a technicality.

In reality, once again Uganda’s bark is bigger than its bite.  Neighboring countries have more gays in prison than does Uganda. Even Westerners have been arrested there.

Uganda . is one of the friendliest countries in Africa.  Unfortunately, the Gay Bill kept Uganda’s negative image alive and well for years.  No one will ask an LGBT Tourist his or her sexual orientation, no hotel will not give you a room, no Tour Company deny you service.

Once again  it is Uganda’s Tourism Image – Perceptions versus the Reality

 Uganda is a place of sickness – Ebola – Zika Virus – Marburg – AIDS and who knows what else:

Uganda – Perceptions versus the Reality – Amazingly no one on a Safari with us has become ill. The chances that you become ill from even a contaminated salad at McDonald’s is more likely than you coming down with Malaria on a Safari.  Uganda when it comes to her.

The Zika Virus was originally discovered in Uganda over 50 e in Zika Forest near Entebbe but there are no cases of  Zika in Uganda today.

Uganda, unlike other countries, has a record of success in dealing with diseases such as Ebola, Marburg and other infectious diseases.

Tour Operators such as ourselves know what to do in case of an outbreak.

Our  Focus remains on the client and their wellbeing.  During the last Ebola outbreak in Uganda, no safari was canceled. no safari was terminated, no one became ill.

 Uganda is not the Best Place for Gorilla Trekking?

That is a myth Perpetuated by anecdotal input on the Internet.  Nothing could be further from Reality.  Uganda has two Gorilla Park and over half of the remaining Mountain Gorilla Population.  The only country where you can trek both in the Virunga Volcanoes and in an ancient Afro-Montane Rainforest.

Uganda has more Gorillas, more Gorilla Permits, the only country with more time with Gorillas – 4-hours and on top of that the permits are 900 USD less than in Rwanda.  That has led to the Great Gorilla Trekker Migration to Uganda.

Add to that the most Chimpanzees in East Africa, a thriving Elephant population, the largest number of Rothschild Giraffes in Africa, the largest chimpanzee Population in East Africa.  The largest Mountain Gorilla Population, the River Nile, Africa’s largest Lake with its Hidden Tropical Islands-the Ssese Islands, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon and Volcanoes on both sides of the border, though it all runs the Equator.

 The Image of Uganda we like to see Portrayed to the World:

Stick to the Basics -its the Pearl of Africa.  Open up the Shell wider to allow the world to see what natural wonders we have in Uganda. Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Wildlife, one of the best wildlife parks in all of Africa, Kidepo Valley Park.  The River Nile and its source at Jinja, the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria, the tallest Mountain Range in Africa, the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon, the Volcanoes in the east and west of the country. Add to that authentic Cultural encounters such as with the Batwa, the Ik, the Karamojong people, nothing staged for tourists, i is the real thing

The setting – Uganda, one of Africa’s welcoming and friendliest, the best English Speaking Country in all of Africa, stability, safety, security, affordability and don’t tamper with Gorilla Permit prices. Push the 900 USD price difference in permits and do not be shy about, we do.

Know your market – do not push what you want but give Tourists what they are looking to do and see in Uganda, no one has booked a safari with us on the basis of Rolex, Matooke, Waragi, Kampala Nightlife, all wonderful in their own right but they are not the main attraction for most.  Stick to the Basics, we do not need an Idi Amin Trail yet – know Uganda’s strengths and go with them, that is what we do as a Ugandan Tour Operator.

Uganda’s Tourism Image – Perceptions versus Reality.  Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, it will always be that and visitors to this country are always pleasantly surprised as to what they find.